Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rockin' With Cowboy Hats

I have never been much of a fan of country music, though I have loved the occasional country song. I have always tended not to be genre-obsessed. If music is good, it is good; if it moves me, it moves me. Still, the genre that has tended to strike out with me the most has been (next to rap and hip-hop) country.

At this point, the band I am in is playing a lot of country music, because we are a band that plays popular music and country is very popular just now. Of course -- there is not a whole lot of "country" in today's country music. It is basically rock with cowboy hats. To make up for this, I suppose, the songwriters seem to be reacting to their countryless music by writing what they see as hyper-country lyrics and by feebly begging people to believe their music is "country" by putting references to country life in every title... least in the most popular stuff. I guess there are artists out there doing the real thing and I just don't know about them. But the fact remains that the most popular stuff is embarrassingly superficial, even to a guy who doesn't have a dog in the proverbial race. I imagine fans of real country music (purists of the genre) are getting headaches, at this point, from grinding their teeth every time Luke Bryan comes out with a new tune. Just look as far as some of the titles of songs we play (which are the only modern country songs I know, really):

"Country Girl"
"She's Country"
"Hillbilly Shoes"
"Hillbilly Bone"

Then, there are those that may not have specifically "country" titles but that are all about being country, like "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" (Okay -- that's devilishly clever, but it still references "giggin' frogs" in the song.) Or, "Boys 'Round Here," "here," being, you know, out in the country ("You don't do the Dougie?" "Naw, not in Kentucky."). Or "Cruise," in which a country Casanova, a poet of the highest order, tells his Juliet that a "brand new Chevy with a lift kit would look a helluva lot better with [her] up in it."
...and now. 

I guess, to a great extent, country music has often been about country life, even in the old days, but, it seems to me, from the classic tunes I know, it was more about real life and less about quick references to "ice-cold beer," catfish and pickup trucks with pretty women on them dancing under the KC lights ("country girl, shake it for me...").

I just looked over a list of the "Top 500" country songs and found (and remembered some) titles like:

"Three Chords and the Truth"
"Ships That Don't Come In"
"Your Cheatin' Heart"
"I Walk The Line"
"White Lightning"

These titles just seem a bit more dignified and a heck of a lot more ambitious, if only in a slightly commercial way.

I dunno. I think I would be mad if I were into real country music. As it stands, I am mildy amused and I enjoy putting impotent parameters on the band, like that I have a three-song limit for mention of catfish and will not play any more songs with said reference.

And I'm not complaining. Luke Bryan rocks. (But, is he supposed to?)


  1. "Catfish John was a river hobo
    Livin' by the river bend
    And lookin' back I can still remember
    I was proud to be his friend

    Mama said don't go near that river
    Don't be hangin' round old Catfish John
    But come the mornin' I'd always be there
    Walkin' in his footsteps in the sweet Delta dawn...."


    1. Now, see -- there's a real one. Not sure whay its origin is, but I know it has been covered by lots, including the Grateful Dead.Far and away from jacked-up pickup trucks! Thanks for visiting and sharing, Esther!